LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oklahoma and UCLA on paper seems to be the quintessential matchup of experience versus youth. The Sooners have three players with at least 1,500-point career points while the Bruins have five freshmen who play pivotal roles.
Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk isn't falling for that storyline though going into Monday's NCAA Tournament second-round matchup at Pauley Pavilion.
"I don't know if you can actually count UCLA's freshmen as freshmen, so let's be real from a standpoint -- I mean, they are so talented," Baranczyk said after Sunday's practice. "We are not going into this game saying, 'We have experience and therefore, we are just going to show up and the experience takes care of itself.' You've got to work, and it's March and anybody can do anything."
The Sooners (26-6), who advanced with a 85-63 victory over Portland, are led by Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson, who both have over 2,000 points. The pair have scored at least 15 points in the same game 25 times since the start of last season, with Oklahoma going 23-2.
Robertson, who is averaging 11.6 points per game, scored 14 points in the win over Portland. She is also the NCAA's career leader in 3-pointers with 537 after going 3 for 3 beyond the arc on Saturday.
Williams leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game and was an AP All-America honorable mention selection. She needs seven rebounds to become the third player in school history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
Those aren't the only two players UCLA will have to worry about. Ana Llanusa (11.7 points per game) and Skylar Vann (11.5) make the Sooners one of seven schools nationally to have four players average at least 11.5 points per game.
Oklahoma also comes into the game second in the nation in offense, averaging 84.5 points per game. It has won all 22 games when reaching 80 points.
"We talked a lot about defending the first seven seconds of the shot clock because they are just so good. It's remarkable how quickly they attack in transition and how well they find shooters out," UCLA coach Cori Close said. "They have got a lot of weapons who know how to stretch the floor, who are versatile. So I'm worried about a lot of things in terms of stopping them."
UCLA's heralded freshman class, which was ranked tops in the country by many recruiting services, has found its stride late in the season.
Guard Kiki Rice — who had 15 points in Saturday's 67-45 win over Sacramento State — is averaging 11.8 points this season, but 14.7 in the past six games. Gabriela Jaquez, Londynn Jones and Lina Sontag are also providing quality minutes off the bench.
The Bruins though will look to senior Charisma Osborne to help get them to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2019. Osborne leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game and is coming off a 11-point, 12-rebound, five-assist game in the first round.
"They are very, very crafty. Although Osborne can score at all the different levels and she's very quick and she's physical on the inside, she just gets everybody around her better," Baranczyk said. "They provide so many challenges from a defensive standpoint, and at the same time, I think they do an incredible job on their defense, too."
It will be the first meeting between UCLA and Oklahoma since November 2013. They faced each other in the second round of the tournament in 2013, with the Sooners winning 85-72.
The winner will face top-ranked and unbeaten South Carolina on Saturday in a Greenville 1 Regional semifinal.